Where are the LGBT+ Characters?

How many protagonists can you count off the top of your head that can be labeled as canonly gay, asexual, bisexual, transgender, etc.? It’s hard, isn’t it?

As an avid reader in high school, I found the library’s stock of novels that showcased an LGBT+ protagonist to be almost nonexistent. There were a few books scattered here and there that hinted at it, sure—a non-focus character comes out at the very end, or maybe someone mentions the subject once in the 400 pages of the story. As a closeted gay kid who didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, or who I thought was cute—boys or girls?—it was sometimes hard to find works of fiction that I could completely delve into when all of the main characters were typically straight people. There’s nothing wrong with having straight protagonists; I absolutely adore the protagonists I grew up reading: Harry and Ginny? Love them. Tris and Four? Hell yeah. Katniss and Peeta? Of course! Those characters and their relationships are great, but we are seriously lacking in portraying the spectrum of relationships. The boy gets the girl—but why can’t the boy get the boy, or why does the boy have to get anyone? These romance arcs in stories have become so cookie cutter, copy and paste, that I can’t find joy in reading them anymore.

The sexual orientation of a main character can have a much larger impact on readers than you might think. Take me for example: when I was a young reader, I didn’t know that a relationship could be anything but a boy and a girl. There wasn’t anything else for me to base relationships off of, and I wasn’t exposed to all of the possibilities that are out there. It’s hard to accept and validate your own feelings when every book you read is about one straight couple after another. There’s no message telling kids that it’s okay to be gay, or to not feel comfortable with their born gender, or to just not be into anyone at all.

As a writer and as a member of the LGBT+ community, I want to contribute to filling the gap in diverse relationships found in literature. Because it’s such a niche topic, there are a million and two original stories waiting to be sculpted. I get it, writing these characters can even be hard for people within the LGBT+ community. As a lesbian, I’m afraid of getting it wrong when it comes to asexual or transgender characters. No one wants to misrepresent a culture that is not theirs, so it’s a writer’s responsibility to research these complex topics before putting them on paper. I hope that soon, more and more of these accurate representations will be introduced in the novels to come so that young readers can find characters they are comfortable identifying with.

How to Make a Million Bucks

I discovered my passion for writing by accident. I didn’t have a passion for writing right away, but I had the confidence to be the best. Writing was a huge part of my life during high school. In high school I won a poetry contest celebrating Oklahoma’s centennial celebration, which culminated in earning a college scholarship for creative writing. With my scholarship secured, I decided to pursue a church music degree at a Christian university instead of a writing degree.

If you’re wondering, I’m not a worship leader now. As an undergrad, I left the Christian school, and I went to the University of Central Oklahoma where eventually I dropped out. I partied too much, and I didn’t attend class. I started at UCO with a 3.5 and I left with a 0.08. I was determined to fail. What I needed now was a career change.

My career of choice was a maintenance man at my local church denomination. I spent my days fixing light bulbs, changing toilets, and fetching tools for my boss like an obedient dog. Eventually, this direction bored and it offered no purpose to my life. Cleaning toilets, helping old women move light stands, and stealing snacks from department break rooms didn’t suffice anymore. At the time I needed change, and I needed it fast. This epiphany hit me one summer day. 

This summer day was hot—one hundred degrees with one hundred percent humidity. Cleaning windows forty feet above the ground, for the umpteenth day in a row, is enough to make any man rethink his decisions. I said to myself, “I hate this. I don’t want to do it anymore.” Then, I concocted a plan to attend school again. Hot, hard labor made this man want that cushioned desk job. This epiphany wasn’t the only factor in deciding to be a writer; listening to sports radio was inspirational too.

One day I drove down 36th toward a postal office located on the service road. I was listening to The Sports Animal, waiting for recaps about the previous night’s Thunder game. A commercial came on before the recap. It was narrated by a Methodist preacher, and he told a story about how a woman discovered pie making. She made pies out of necessity to support her family, and she started selling them to the public. Eventually, the business was sold to a large corporation for nearly a hundred million dollars.


The preacher asked her, “How’d you make so much money?”

She replied, “I found something I was good at and did it.”

“That’s it!” I shouted, thinking back to how I received a college scholarship for writing in high school. After that, I decided on to go back to school. I started my journey as a writer and finally obtained my bachelors in English.

I’ve now worked several jobs as a writer or pertaining to writing. I’ve been a photojournalist, writing tutor, editorial intern, freelance writer, freelance editor, script editor, copywriter, copy editor, social media manager and marketing intern—where I discovered a passion for graphic design. Each position has challenged me as a writer and challenged my creativity. Currently, I am a grad assistant for the New Plains Review, which is a literary journal at the University of Central Oklahoma. This is my grandest achievement out of all my attempts at being paid as a writer.

That damn radio commercial has influenced my decisions for the past decade. Don’t ask me how to make a million bucks just yet. So far, I’ve only made a couple hundred. But I guarantee, I’ll let you know when it happens!

Book Review – Krampus: The Yule Lord

From Gerald Brom, a man known for painting horrifying monsters, comes a novel that is quickly becoming a Christmas tradition in my household, and a perfectly bittersweet antidote for the usual saccharine Christmas stories. Let me put it this way, if Charlie Brown and the Grinch are the cookies and pie you have after Christmas dinner, then Krampus: The Yule Lord is Christmas dinner itself. Literal (literary?) soul food.

READ MORE…

3 Tips to Start Managing Your TBR List

We all know, as book lovers, that a To Be Read (TBR) list is something that never seems to go away. The list only seems to grow because we buy more books, but have less time to read them. However, my resolution for 2017 is to start managing my TBR list more effectively. I’ve come up with some tips to help you, and me, to accomplish this!

via GIPHY

  1. Get Organized!

First thing to do to get started on all those unread books is to get them organized. I have a bad habit of just putting books wherever they will fit because I own so many, which is clearly not productive to accomplishing any reading. Instead of having to search for those books all over your shelves, make an actual TBR list or put all your TBR books in one place. (You can even organize by genre or year of publication.) Alyssa, our Director of Public Relations, suggests putting all your TBR titles in a jar and then drawing one at random to add a little spontaneity. But no matter how you organize your TBR books, having all of your titles in one place that is easy to access is the first step to tackling your list.

  1. Make Time to Read!

As a college student, I understand that making time to read isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Scheduling time to read is a surefire way to start making an impact on that TBR list. One way I make time to read is by rewarding myself. This is how I justify taking thirty minutes away from college or work. If I’ve worked hard all day, I feel like taking a little time for myself to read and unwind is well deserved. Not only am I stepping away from the stress of reality, but I am working on a personal goal.

Printable poster can be found at etsy shop EtOfficina.
  1. Join a Book Club

For me, joining a book club has made it much easier to tackle my list. Not only do I have an organized list of books that we are planning to read, but I have people to discuss these books with. Having people reading the same books as me not only makes my reading more productive, but also challenges me to keep up with the reading and not slack on our reading schedule. So join an already existing book club or create one with your friends! Reading one book every two to three weeks, depending on length, has made managing my TBR a possibility.

There’s three tips to get you started on your TBR list. If you have any tips of your own that we haven’t mentioned, please feel free to share in the comments below! Happy reading!

via GIPHY

5 Booktubers to Get You Started

It’s no secret that I can waste plenty of time on YouTube. It’s a black hole. I start off with a “just for a few minutes” mindset, checking what some of my favorite Youtubers may have uploaded, and then five hours later, I’m learning how to do Yoda costume makeup for absolutely no reason.

YouTube is a community of communities where there is something for everyone: makeup lovers, gamers, musicians, belly dancers in training, you name it. Book lovers are not excluded, as they shouldn’t be.

BookTube is a glorious place where readers can unite for our common love: books! You just have to know where to look. If you aren’t familiar with it, here are a few booktubers that you can start off with. If you are, maybe we’ve mentioned one of your favorites.

1. Ariel Bissett

Quirky, charming, entertaining, Ariel is a personal favorite. Her channel is one full of book reviews, poetry, writing tips, and creativity. She’s delightful to watch and just plain adorable, and between you and me, she is living the dream life. Who doesn’t want to live in London?

Here’s one of my personal favorite videos:

2. WellDoneBooks (Max)

If you’re looking for more literary, analytical reviews of your favorite books, or of a book you’re hoping to make a favorite, Max is the booktuber for you. His channel is loaded with book reviews from memoirs like Heart of  Glass by Wendy Lawless to fun novels like The Girls by Emily Kline. He gives insightful opinions so that you never have to wonder, “Is this the book for me?”

Check out his most recent video:

3. polandbananasBOOKS (Christine Riccio)

Christine is certainly one of the more energetic booktubers out there and is perhaps my favorite on this list. Her videos are fun and highly engaging. And with her upbeat, all over the place attitude, it’s hard to get bored when watching her videos. She does “booktalks,” often with popular authors, book hauls, and reviews of TV shows and movies.

Get to know her here:

4. PadfootndProngs07 (Raeleen Lemay) 

Raleen is a wonderful choice in BookTube entertainment, especially if you are like this blogger and have a passion for YA fiction. She has read and mentioned perhaps every possible book that YA readers could love and put on their TBR lists. As a bonus, she does a monthly unboxing of Owlcrates, YA book and swag subscription boxes.

Here’s a book tag!

And last, but not least:

5. jessethereader (Jesse)

Jesse is a joy to watch and keeps things interesting. He’s energetic and genuine and truly loves his books. He keeps his book reviews entertaining and produces lots of fun content, including plenty of challenge videos. And I am very jealous of his library.

Another fun book tag to check out:

Of course, there are plenty of other wonderful booktubers that didn’t make it to this list, but we all have to start somewhere. There is a whole book-loving world to be discovered and it’s waiting for you. But if you are already a BookTube aficionado and we haven’t mentioned one of your faves, feel free to share in the comments below! Have a great day, everyone, and go explore BookTube!